“Fast Five” review.

Looking through the archives on my website (insert shameless plug for RyanTheMovieCritic.com here), I saw in my review of the 2009 actioner “Fast and Furious”, that I essentially surrendered. Surrendered any kind of critical pretensions when approaching the franchise, a long-running cash-cow revolving around Vin Diesel engaging in high-octane street races; at the expense of both the law and endless public property. The tradition, both on the filmmakers’ part and on mine, continues with the newest installment, “Fast Five”.

I’ll be straightforward about this: The summer movie season is here. “Fast Five” announces that in a blaze of burnt rubber and flying vehicles, and I don’t know that there will be a movie this film-going season that will top the total blast I got out of it. It’s been a while since I sat in a theater (front row, mind you) and giggled with such exuberance. I chomped up every frame of this movie at the bit; acknowledging its total lack of substance yet being too distracted by the film’s (endless) flashiness to really mind. If it’s any indication of my enjoyment of “Fast Five”, I literally looked over at my film-going companions and said in a childish, mono-syllabic tone, “Big car go boom!”.

Story? Oh, yeah….that. There’s cars and thieves and cops that want to stop the thieves from getting in the cars. Do you care? I don’t. They’re cliched, shallow vessels of characters, portrayed by mostly mediocre actors (don’t even try to defend the acting talents of Ludacris). They’re also indispensable. Who else would drive the cars?

The action. Oh boy, the action. “Fast Five” is bookended by two 20-minute chase sequences, both of which are as ridiculous and over-the-top as they are technically proficient. The first involves a heist of several sports cars from a high-speed train; the other a chase in which the two main characters speed through the streets of Rio, with literally an entire bank vault attached to the backs of their vehicles, local gangsters and police officers in pursuit. This particular sequence may be one of the zippiest, coolest action scenes in years. I’m going back for seconds on the strength of this alone.

“Fast Five”, for 130 minutes, gave me a giddy-action high; oft recalling when I as a doe-eyed eight-year old, popped in a video cassette of “Die Hard” and for the next two hours was totally blown away by excitement. I can’t rationalize it, or explain it. But when you see a bank vault attached to two high-moving sports cars, I’m pretty sure that high will speak for itself. A-

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